Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 09/04/12

Hurricane Isaac, which played havoc with the Daytona Cubs’ schedule last week, moved inland and forced the cancellation of Peoria’s final home game and Iowa’s last series of the season in New Orleans.

The Cubs’ system claimed two champions, with Boise’s Stephen Bruno winning the Northwest League batting title while Daytona’s John Andreoli led the Florida State League in stolen bases.

Tennessee used the power pitching of Chris Rusin and Nick Struck to put them in position to join the AZL Cubs as the only teams with a winning record.

For all of the season ending news, look inside today’s Down on the Farm Report.

Short Season-A – Boise Hawks (37-39)
Now that the playoffs are secured, the Hawks are showing no signs of letting up. Boise is 6-4 in their past ten games. Boise tied Yakima for the lead in the overall standings on Wednesday with a 9-5 victory over Everett. Tayler Scott remains one of the most consistent pitchers on the Boise squad, as he tossed four innings while allowing three runs (two earned). Michael Heesch seems to have ironed out some of the control issues that plagued him in recent appearances. Heesch gave up only one hit over two scoreless innings. Nathan Dorris followed Heesch’s lead by shutting out the Aqua Sox for two innings, while closer Eduardo Orozco got in some work in the ninth and surrendered two earned runs.

As the number of games continued to tick down, several Hawks looked to move up on the offensive leader boards. Stephen Bruno opened a ten percentage point lead in his quest for the batting title by going 2-for-3 with an RBI. Dan Vogelbach (1-for-3) moved to one off the lead as he smacked his tenth homer. Jeimer Candelario is now in the top five in RBI with his 45th of the season, while Rock Shoulders (2-for-4 with a double) drove in a pair. Albert Almora and Marco Hernandez also had multi-hit games. Almora went 2-for-4 with a double and Hernandez was 2-for-3 with a RBI.

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With neither a playoff spot nor home field advantage to play for on Thursday, the focus turned to individual achievements as Boise lost 4-3 to Everett. Stephen Bruno upped the margin in his league leading batting average to 14 percentage points with a 2-for-4 effort that included a double. Rock Shoulders threw his hat into the ring for home run honors. Shoulders hit a pinch-hit two-run shot for his tenth of the season, two off the league lead. Albert Almora (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) also drove in a run. Justin Amlung surrendered an earned run in his scheduled two innings of work. James Pugliese continued struggling in the piggyback role. Pugliese gave up two earned runs while striking out four over four innings. Su-Min Jung held the Aqua Sox scoreless for 1.1 innings, but Tyler Bremer served up a solo homer, which proved to be the winning margin, in 1.2 innings.

It was once again difficult for the Hawks to maintain their focus after getting a lead and they allowed it to slip away on Friday with a 6-4 loss to Everett. The offense did show up, as Stephen Bruno remained the top story. Bruno went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI and raised his league leading average to .359, eighteen points ahead of his nearest rival. Jeimer Candelario (2-for-3) solidified his position in the top five in RBI by driving in two, giving him 47 for the season. Gioskar Amaya made a push to raise his batting average over .300 with a 2-for-3 performance and Rock Shoulders (2-for-4 with a double) tied for tenth in RBI. Felix Pena had his second consecutive start and tossed five scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Hayden Simpson, however, allowed the Aqua Sox to tie things up in his first inning of work … then allowed four more the next inning. Hayden surrendered a total of six earned runs in two innings. Eduardo Orozco replaced Simpson, but the damage had already been done. Orozco struck out four in two scoreless innings.

Boise went out in style on Saturday night, rallying for two runs in the bottom of the ninth to top Everett 12-11. The Hawks saw a 3-0 lead going into the fourth innings evaporate, as starter Ian Dickson was charged with six runs (four earned) in 3.1 innings. Hunter Ackermann could not right the ship and gave up another five runs (two earned) over 1.2 innings. Brian Smith was able to restore order and struck out four over three scoreless innings. Rafael Diplan put the Aqua Sox away in the ninth.

Stephen Bruno singled in the first inning and was immediately replaced by Lance Rymel (1-for-2), securing the Northwest League batting crown with a .361 mark. After going down 11-3 to Everett, Boise stormed back with their bats. Marco Hernandez pushed his way into the top ten in both batting average and RBI. Hernandez went 4-for-6 while driving in two runs. Dan Vogelbach (3-for-5 with a double) added three more RBI to his total. Gioskar Amaya (2-for-4, double, triple and two RBI) fell just short of hitting .300, while Willson Contreras (1-for-6, two RBI) joined teammates Marco Hernandez and Jeimer Candelario in the top ten for RBI.

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Low Class-A – Peoria Chiefs (63-75)
Peoria made a valiant effort to come back after being put behind the eight-ball on Wednesday, but lost to Cedar Rapids 9-5. After being used in the first half as a closer, Yao-Lin Wang seems to be running out of gas. Wang had his second poor outing in a row, allowing nine runs (seven earned) while striking out four in four innings. Bryce Shafer held the Kernels at bay by tossing two scoreless innings and Pete Levitt struck out three as he shut down Cedar Rapids the rest of the way. Jorge Soler (2-for-3 with a RBI) paced the offense and Chadd Krist (1-for-3 with a triple) also drove in a run. Jacob Rogers (1-for-3 with a RBI) appears to be finding his stroke.

A back-and-forth game between Peoria and Cedar Rapids on Thursday saw the Kernels score four runs in the top of the tenth to defeat the Chiefs 11-7. Pin-Chieh Chen had a whale of a game. Chen went 3-for-4 with a triple, a stolen base and three runs scored. Wes Darvill also went 3-for-4. Darvill doubled and drove in a run and Sergio Burruel went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI. Joe Zeller saw his last action for the season, as he was placed on the DL following the game. Zeller allowed five runs and struck out two in 6.2 innings. Sheldon McDonald was touched up for two earned runs in an inning of work, and Larry Suarez kept Cedar Rapids off the board for 1.1 innings. Luis Liria was hit hard and gave up four runs (three earned) that allowed the Kernels to pull away.

After their final home game was rained out on Friday night, the Chiefs went to Kane County to close out the season and lost 6-5 on Saturday. Sticking with mainly off-speed stuff, starter Jeffry Antigua allowed three earned runs through five innings. With his pitch count mounting in the sixth inning, Antigua gave up more earned runs before yielding to Justin Berg, who uncorked a wild pitch that brought in the go-ahead run. All the runs were charged to Antigua … six earned runs in 5.2 innings. Berg tossed another wild one, but was statistically untouched in his 2.1 innings. Bijan Rademacher came up big on offense with a 2-for-4 performance that included a double, a stolen base and three RBI. Chadd Krist (2-for-4) smacked two doubles, while Oliver Zapata (1-for-3) smoked a double down the line that scored two runs.

Sunday saw the Chiefs once again in a dogfight with Kane County and they lost 5-4 in ten innings. Starling Peralta had one bad inning. Peralta allowed three earned runs in the fifth but struck out eight over 5.1 innings. Sheldon McDonald held the Cougars for 1.2 innings, but newcomer Steve Perakslis wound up sending the game into extra innings by letting in an earned run in his inning of work. Austin Reed worked around a single in the ninth, but wasn’t as lucky in the tenth and gave up the game winning single with two outs. Jorge Soler (3-for-5) put the Chiefs ahead in the eighth with a solo home run. Jacob Rogers (2-for-5) drove in a run and Tim Saunders was 2-for-4 with a stolen base.

The season ended on a positive note Monday with a 6-2 win at Kane County. Yaniel Cabezas saved his best effort for last. Cabezas went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer. Pin-Chieh Chen went 2-for-4 with a triple and Dustin Geiger (1-for-3 with a double) also drove in a run.

Ben Wells continued his comeback from injury and made his scheduled two-inning start. Wells walked three and gave up three hits but held the Cougars without a run. Willengton Cruz served as the piggyback and allowed two earned runs in his 4.2 innings. Luis Liria continued to struggle with his control but he was able to work around four walks in 0.2 innings and kept Kane County from scoring. Pete Levitt put together 1.2 scoreless innings and earned his first save.

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High Class-A – Daytona Cubs (59-74)
Daytona finally got a break in the weather on Wednesday and was able to complete a doubleheader. The D-Cubs split a pair with Clearwater by winning 4-1 in the first game and losing 3-1 in extra innings in game two. PJ Francescon and AJ Morris four-hit the Threshers. Francescon struck out three and allowed an earned run in six innings while Morris closed things out for his sixth save. Christian Villanueva led the offense as he was 2-for-3 with a home run and a stolen base. Javier Baez (1-for-3) and Elieser Bonne (1-for-2) each drove in a run.

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Spot starter Frank Del Valle took the hill in the second game and gave the D-Cubs a fighting chance. Del Valle struck out six while allowing an earned run through five innings. Ryan Searle set down the side in the sixth, and Jeffrey Lorick got out of a jam in the seventh to force extra innings. However, Lorick couldn’t escape in the eighth and gave up two earned runs. Scott Weismann finished the inning, but the damage was done. Rebel Ridling (1-for-3) provided the only scoring for Daytona with his fourth home run. John Andreoli went 1-for-3 with a double.

The D-Cubs failed to hold a lead on Thursday and lost 6-5 loss to Brevard County. Kyle Hendricks had a serviceable start and allowed three earned runs while striking out three in four innings. Matt Spencer held the Manatees scoreless and struck out the side in the fifth inning. Hunter Cervenka followed and gave up the tying run in his 1.1 innings of work, but Eduardo Figueroa let in two earned runs in the top of the ninth for the final margin. John Andreoli crept his average closer to .300 by going 3-for-5 with a double, while Rebel Ridling was 2-for-5 with a double. Javier Baez (1-for-4) cracked his second home run for Daytona.

Daytona used a late surge on Friday to push past Brevard County 4-3. It was the veterans to the rescue for the offense. Rebel Ridling went 4-for-5 with a double, home run and two RBI and Vladimir Frias (3-for-4) drove in a run. Nelson Perez was 2-for-4 with a double and a stolen base.

Kyler Burke got the starting nod and allowed three earned runs while striking out three in four innings. Matt Iannazzo kept his scoreless streak at Daytona intact. Iannazzo struck out three and shut out the Manatees for three innings. Scott Weismann closed things out with two scoreless innings for his third win.

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Trying to end the season on a positive note, Daytona outlasted Brevard County 4-2 on Saturday. All-Star John Andreoli (2-for-3 with two runs scored) secured the Florida State League stolen base crown by swiping two (55) and belted his first homer of the year. Nelson Perez (2-for-3) cracked two doubles and drove in a run. Rafael Lopez (1-for-3) also had an RBI.

Another All-Star, Matt Loosen allowed an earned run while striking out six in five innings. Loosen picked up his 11th win and ended up fifth in the league with 110 strikeouts. Jeffrey Lorick surrendered an earned run over two innings, while AJ Morris picked up his seventh save.

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Daytona finished their season on a high note Sunday, taking their final series against Brevard County with a 3-2 victory. Javier Baez (2-for-3) kept the D-Cubs in the game with two solo homers. But it was Taylor Davis (2-for-4, double) who singled home pinch runner Anthony Giansanti in the bottom of the ninth to win the game. Ronald Torreyes went 2-for-3 with a double.

Ryan Searle was given the honor of closing the season. Searle allowed two runs, one earned, while striking out four over six innings of work. Matt Spencer struck out a pair in a scoreless inning and Hunter Cervenka also struck out two in his 1.1 innings of scoreless ball. Eduardo Figueroa recorded the final two outs and picked up his fourth victory.

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Double-A – Tennessee Smokies (72-68)
Tennessee brought out their big sticks on Thursday and scored all of their runs via the longball as they beat Pensacola 4-2. Logan Watkins (1-for-3) started things off with a solo shot in the first inning. Matt Cerda (1-for-3) put the Smokies ahead for good in the sixth with a two-run blast. Justin Bour (1-for-3) added a solo home run in the eighth inning for good measure.

Dallas Beeler was the beneficiary of his teammate’s muscle as he allowed two runs (one earned) with four strikeouts in five innings in route to his sixth win. Casey Harman held the Blue Wahoos scoreless for an inning, while Trey McNutt struck out the side in the seventh. Brian Schlitter then fanned four in the final two innings and notched his sixth save.

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The Smokies rode some power pitching to a two-hit shutout and beat Pensacola 5-0 on Friday. With the end of Iowa’s season cancelled, and the Major League rosters not expanding until Saturday, Chris Rusin was sent to Tennessee to make his regularly scheduled start. Rusin had everything working for him as he no-hit the Blue Wahoos through three innings. Nick Struck piggybacked on Rusin and took over as the organizational leader in wins (14), strikeouts (123) and ERA (3.18). Struck tossed 5.2 scoreless innings and struck out batters. Tony Zych gave up a hit but recorded the final out. Rubi Silva had a big night at the plate. Silva went 2-for-4 with his second homer for the Smokies, a stolen base, and four RBI. Justin Bour (1-for-4) scored two runs, while Matt Szczur went 2-for-5.

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The Smokies ended up on the wrong end of a one-run game on Saturday and lost 3-2 to Pensacola. Eric Jokisch allowed one earned run while striking out five over five innings. Jokisch lowered his ERA in the process and his 3.11 ERA is tops in the Cubs’ organization. Zach Rosscup gave up an earned run in his inning of work, while Jaye Chapman and Rafael Dolis (Dolis was down from Iowa to finish the season) each pitched a scoreless inning. However, Kevin Rhoderick struggled with his command again and gave up a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. Logan Watkins (1-for-3) accounted for Tennessee’s only runs with his two-run homer in the fifth inning. Matt Szczur went 2-for-5 with a double.

Sunday saw some marathon baseball, as it took 15 innings for the Smokies to bring home a 7-3 win over Pensacola. A Junior Lake (1-for-5 with four RBI) three-run homer in the top of the 15th provided the winning margin. Rubi Silva (2-for-7) would later triple and come home for an insurance run. Logan Watkins (2-for-6, two RBI) doubled in Matt Szczur (1-for-6) for Tennessee’s first run. Jae-Hoon Ha (2-for-6) scored in the sixth inning, while Matt Cerda (3-for-7, RBI) scored in the seventh and gave the Smokies a 3-1 advantage at the time.

Dae-Eun Rhee was in pursuit of his tenth win, and held the Blue Wahoos to an earned run while striking out five through six innings. Tony Zych let Pensacola back into the game by giving up two earned runs in 0.2 innings. Frank Batista bailed Zych out with 1.1 scoreless innings, but when the offense couldn’t support him, the Smokies turned to Brian Schlitter. Schlitter struck out four in three scoreless innings, and then yielded to Casey Harman. Harman shut the Blue Wahoos out the rest of the way.

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Tennessee ended the season with a winning record on Monday, as they broke the game open late against Pensacola and posted an 8-1 win. Anthony Recker, the recently acquired catcher was down from Iowa to finish the season, was a one-man wrecking crew. Recker went 2-for-5 with a double, a home run and four RBI. Jae-Hoon Ha (2-for-5 with a double) and Matt Cerda (2-for-5 with a RBI) also contributed. Rubi Silva (1-for-5) plated two and he also gunned down a runner at home from centerfield.

Austin Kirk picked up his second win for the Smokies after allowing an earned run in 5.2 innings while striking out two batters. Frank Batista was called on to pick up the final out in the sixth, and then turned things over to Jaye Chapman, Rafael Dolis, and Trey McNutt.

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Triple-A – Iowa Cubs (53-87)
An embarrassing season for Iowa trudged along on Wednesday, as they inched closer to a 90-loss campaign by losing 3-0 to Nashville. Veteran Ryan Rowland-Smith had a solid effort and allowed two runs (one earned) in five innings. Jay Jackson, one of the bigger disappointments on the team, followed and tossed a scoreless inning. Jeff Beliveau finished things out by giving up an earned run in two innings. Diory Hernandez led the somewhat toothless attack by going 2-for-4 with two doubles. Newcomer Anthony Recker was 1-for-3 with a double.

Mercifully, the I-Cubs season came to an end on Thursday, as Hurricane Isaac forced a cancellation of their final series with New Orleans. Iowa posted their eighty-seventh loss of the season, going down at the hands of Nashville 6-1. Adrian Cardenas (1-for-4) had an RBI double that drove in Tony Campana (1-for-5, stolen base) for Iowa’s only run. Yoannis Negrin had a workman like effort. Negrin allowed three runs (two earned) and struck out two in five innings. Jaye Chapman practically breezed through his inning. But Miguel Socolovich was roughed up for three earned runs while striking out three in his inning of work. Rafael Dolis wrapped up his enigmatic season with a scoreless ninth.

News and Notes
The Chicago Cubs recalled LHP Jeff Beliveau; optioned LHP Brooks Raley to the Iowa Cubs. The Iowa Cubs assigned RHP Jaye Chapman and RHP Rafael Dolis to the Tennessee Smokies. The Tennessee Smokies assigned RHP Nick Struck and RHP Casey Weathers to the Iowa Cubs. The Peoria Chiefs placed RHP Joe Zeller on the 7-Day disabled list. The AZL Cubs assigned RHP Steve Perakslis to the Peoria Chiefs; assigned C Justin Marra to the Boise Hawks.

CCOs Prospect Watch

  • Javier Baez (IF) – . 188, three doubles, a triple, four home runs, 13 RBI, four stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Jeimer Candelario (3B) – . 281, 14 doubles, six home runs, 47 RBI, two stolen bases (Boise Hawks)
  • Zeke DeVoss (2B) – .249, 24 doubles, seven triples, six home runs, 38 RBI, 35 stolen bases (Peoria Chiefs)
  • Junior Lake (IF) – . 279, 26 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 50 RBI, 21 stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Dillon Maples (RHP) – 0-1, 4.35 ERA, 10.1 innings, 12 strikeouts, 10 walks, 1.55 WHIP (Arizona Cubs)
  • Matt Szczur (OF) – .210, seven doubles, four triples, two home runs, six RBI, four stolen bases (Tennessee Smokies)
  • Ronald Torreyes (2B) – .264, 23 doubles, five triples, six home runs, 47 RBI, 13 stolen bases (Daytona Cubs)
  • Dan Vogelbach (1B) – . 322, nine doubles, a triple, 10 home runs, 31 RBI (Boise Hawks)
  • Robert Whitenack (RHP) – 1-6, 5.96 ERA, 51.1 innings, 31 strikeouts, 27 walks, 1.89 WHIP (Daytona Cubs)
  • Tony Zych (RHP) – 2-1, 4.38 ERA, 24.2 innings, 28 strikeouts, 12 walks, 1.54 WHIP (Tennessee Smokies)

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Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax